Amazon to Sell Its Own Brand of Chips Next to Wipes, USB Cablesby and
Recently acquired startup unveils new line of semiconductors
'Alpine' products based on designs from U.K.'s ARM Holdings
Amazon.com Inc. is expanding the products it makes and sells under its own brand with a foray into chips for computers and gadgets, adding to a portfolio of products that includes baby wipes, USB cables and batteries.
Annapurna Labs, a subsidiary of the Web retailer, announced Wednesday that it has developed a line of chips called Alpine to sell to manufacturers and data-center operators. The semiconductors are based on designs from ARM Holdings Plc and can be used to create products that handle Wi-Fi, stream video, run data centers, or be embedded in small, low-cost Internet of Things devices, the company said.
The entry of an Amazon subsidiary into the market for components and systems is a challenge to Intel Corp.’s dominance of data-center infrastructure. The use of ARM’s technology in Intel’s most lucrative market has so far been negligible as the world’s largest chipmaker has kept a grip on its 99 percent market share for server chips. In November, Intel’s data-center business chief Diane Bryant said the threat of ARM-based servers was a tool that customers use in price negotiations. ARM’s current market share is less than half of 1/10 of a percent, she said.
Amazon agreed to acquire Annapurna Labs in January 2015. The Amazon Web Services cloud-computing unit is hiring semiconductor engineers to add to its own capabilities and is increasingly seeking to design or tweak its own hardware. While the Seattle-based Web retailer is a storefront for merchandise from a plethora of manufacturers, it has branched out to offer commoditized products under its own brand. The Annapurna chips aren’t yet available directly from Amazon’s main e-retail website.
Annapurna Labs’s Alpine semiconductors aren’t targeted at the sort of high-end servers that support Intel’s business, and instead are designed for devices that nibble at the edge of this market, such as low-power computers for storage and networking. Companies such as Synology America Corp., Netgear Inc., Asustek Computer Inc. and others are building products that use Annapurna’s technology, the company said in the release. Annapurna will also sell a hardware development kit, which lets its customers modify and extend its chips for their own purposes.